Film (analogue) photography can be incredibly fun and is often used by photographers as a tool to help increase and expand technical skills. You get one shot. No continuous burst shooting and selecting the best photo afterwards, you have to make sure all of your settings are correct: ISO, aperture, shutter speed, focus… breathe and shoot. Then you wait for the film roll to get developed (if you don’t have a dark room). It’s a long process, but it’s a practice that’s becoming increasingly popular again. With the digital age booming, many enthusiasts and professionals are turning back to film photography to get a different look and push themselves both creatively and technically.

How to load 35mm film into an analogue camera

Steps to load new 35mm film into an analogue camera:

Make sure you start off with a clean, dust-free surface, in a well-lit area. Be patient, changing film in a newly acquired camera can take a few tries before it becomes easier. If there is film in the camera, you’re going to need to rewind and remove the used film, otherwise, you can simply skip that step and go straight to loading a new roll.

Rewind the film and open camera door

Depending on your camera’s make and model, there will be a rewind lever on the top, bottom or side of the camera. This lever lets you rewind the film (clockwise) back into the canister before removing it. Press or lift the lever to rewind the used film, then pop the back of the camera door open to take out your old film to insert new film. Most cameras have a latch or switch that releases the back cover. Go to Google if you’re unsure how to open your camera’s door.

Remove film canister

Carefully lift out the used film canister from the camera and safely store the exposed film in a dark container. Photographers usually keep the old canisters for this purpose. If you plan on developing the film later, make sure to label your canister to avoid confusion.

Load the new film

Take the fresh film and remove it from its packaging. Pro tip: keep the paper tab of the film box to store so that you can remember what film is being used. Be careful not to touch the film strip as the oil on your fingertips can damage the film. Insert the canister into the camera on the left-hand side and make sure it fits securely. Press the lever on the top to lock it into place. Again, this depends on your camera make and model. Once the film canister is loaded, pull the film strip (the piece of film sticking out) across the camera’s film gate from left to right and tuck it into the roller on the right. Make sure it aligns perfectly with the little ridges at the top and bottom of the strip. Carefully use your finger to roll the roller to the left, as to wind up some of the film.

Close the camera back and advance the film

After carefully positioning the film, you can close the camera door and secure it with the latch or switch. Ensure that the back is sealed properly to prevent light leaks. Advance or wind the film using the lever to pull back on and then press the shutter release. Do this a few times until you see a number display on the dial at the top of the camera. This dial indicates how many exposures you have taken/left over. Pro tip: Take a selfie for the first exposure on your new film, because if you miss it due to the camera roll not being advanced fully, you don’t miss out on an important shot.

Keep in mind that the exact process of loading film will differ slightly from one make and model to the next. If you’re struggling, feel free to pop in-store and let one of our knowledgeable sales assistants and photographers help you.

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How to load 35mm film into an analogue camera